I happened to catch some of the Earth Day climate rally in Chicago on television and noticed some of the signs being carried:
“Defend Our Mother”
“We are the Earth, Rising Up to Defend Herself”
“Save Our Planet, I Don’t Want to Move!”
“Give Kids a Future”
Also, there were several references to what great environmentalists the Indians supposedly were.
While some of those signs were amusing and well meaning, I couldn’t help putting on my skeptic’s hat over the naivety of some of those signs.
First, “Defend Our Mother.” Since the beginning of humanity, most human effort has been spent trying to defend humanity against Mother Earth, who is less a mother than she is a grouchy neighbor lady who doesn’t want us around. Every house that ever has been built, along with every business building, has been erected for one primary reason, and that is to protect its inhabitants against Mother Nature. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, winds all prey on humanity, and would put humanity to an early death were we not smart enough to put up shelter, or at least seek it in caves. So far, Mother hasn’t needed any defense. We are the ones defending ourselves against her.
And then, of course, there are the things against which there’s little if any protection: Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, asteroid strikes, hurricanes, sandstorms, 130-degree heat waves.
Civilization only happens when we learn to protect ourselves by building structures that will prevail against what Mother Nature tries to throw at us.
And the same was true of the native tribes that once populated the land. They weren’t stupid. They built houses; they made tents.
Some people believe the native Americans were these sweet, gentle stewards of the Earth, but that isn’t necessarily so. Vast portions of the American continent were cultivated by the Indians through the use of fire, to clear the land of trees so grass could grow and provide something buffalo could thrive on so they could become steaks, and roasts and clothing. Sorry, vegans. The Indians were omnivores.
We probably still are breathing some of the soot from those enormous fires that some archeologists believe could have been seen from space, they were so vast.
And Indians weren’t necessarily careful recyclers. Instead, much like Caucasians, when they were through with something, they would throw it away, often in their own backyards. In fact, a lot of what is known about ancient tribal practices has been learned excavating Indian garbage dumps.
Saying, “We are the Earth Rising Up to Defend Herself” is a perfect example of hubris, which the dictionary defines as “arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority; big-headedness and cockiness.” Those sign-carriers probably created more litter out marching than anything they might have done to clean up the environment.
Most of what we need to know to clean up the environment is within our power to do without marching through the streets of Chicago and creating new clutter. It is something we should have learned in kindergarten, according to the Rev. Robert Fulghum, author of “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I learned in Kindergarten.”
It is this: “Clean up your own mess.”
A lot of us would rather focus on what we think others should do than on what we, ourselves, need to do to create a better place to live.
“Give Kids a Future.” If you have kids, the way to do that is to take care of them. Nasty old Mother Nature won’t do it for you. And don’t expect the government to do it, either.
And don’t lose sight of the fact we’ve already made a lot of progress by handling things we can handle, cutting down on air pollution and cutting down on pollution of our waters. But we can’t do much about pollution from other countries unless those other countries want to clean up their own messes, too.